Wednesday, October 31, 2012

To OT or not to OT

So - a bit has been going on in our world.  Anjali has started preschool - and she seems to really like it I'm told by her teachers....and other staff that stop me in the hall with all these cute stories about her.  She still cries a bit when I leave her - but I recall Joshua doing that as well, and I'm told that's all normal.  She stops crying before I even leave the area :)  - and last week she hugged her teacher when we left.

Our biggest challenge has been the busy schedule.  She goes to preschool on Monday, Thursdays, and Fridays, and we have been having PT and OT on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  But now I'm wondering about the OT.  When we go to our provider of these services, she LOVES the PT activities and seems to hate the OT time.  I totally get the need for her to have PT -- I can see why, and I am fully bought into the idea of PT, this girl needs to build a strong core -- she falls alot and needs muscle building.  But OT, I'm not so sure -- so this is where all of you come in -- please post ANY advice you may have.

They say she is a sensory seeker -- at times I question whether or not she's just a child, three years old, exploring her new world....which let's face it.... is DRASTICALLY different than where she lived before for the first three years of her life.  She has transitioned so well.... and we've really asked a lot from her when you think about it:
  • Long trip home across the ocean
  • She attends church service (plays either in the nursery or the 3 year old room - depends on her mood - and everyone is fine with that :) ....LOVE our church
  • She goes to small group on Wednesday nights with Joshua at church
  • She has stayed with her Nanna while Brad and I have went out for dinner a few times
  • She goes to preschool
  • She's met a bunch of people
  • She shops with me
  • She plays inside and out
  • She plays with other neighborhood children and families
  • She loves to help with cleaning dishes
  • She is trying tons of new foods
  • She has a different bedtime routine than most of her life
  • She has a new brother -- who at times picks on her a bit - in a loving brotherly way -- but is someone she adores
  • She's still warming up to her daddy -- honestly she LOVES when he comes home because he does this special swinging activity with her
  • She met two new grandparents when Brad's parents came to visit .....
and I'm sure this list goes on and on..... so I have to this girl adaptable???  Yep, I think so.  Can she be rigid - like her LOVE for "shock-o-lot" (Chocolate) - her opinion that rice and rice and more rice is her preferred food... that SHE likes to peal a banana -- please let her do it her self -- and even more recently her desire to use the toilet -- and actually want to pull the step stool to the toilet HERSELF so she can get up on the toilet -- keep in mind this kiddo is somewhere around 25 or 26 lbs. She is tough, she is strong... she is smart... she is determined....she is eager to please.

I'm told, she needs OT - because of her sensory seeking behavior that she will have trouble learning, writing and fine motor skills (don't really believe that, given she can easily hold a pen or pencil the correct way), and she will struggle focusing on a single task that her teachers will want her to do that she may not prefer....... sound familiar about ANY child age 3-23??   So I struggle to what extend do we keep pushing her??  I'm not saying I don't see the sensory seeking things she does, I do -- but I feel now that we know what it is, we can better respond -- and when we give her inputs, she does very well.  Will the life skills come with overall daily activities?  How important is OT at this very moment??  (The care providers seems to put on the guilt by saying things like, "if you don't get OT now, you will be back later for it" and "it's so much better to do this now than when she's in school and grades matter", etc, etc..... ).   So I continue to struggle with this decision.  And of course she's verbal and jabber, jabber, jabbers alot -- problem is, it's in Marathi - so I have no idea what she's saying.  Here is what I do know, she's happiest at these times:
  1. When she sees Joshua first thing in the morning
  2. When we pick Joshua up from school
  3. When she's having pretend sword fights in my kitchen with Joshua, having horsey rides with him, playing on her scooter, or playing with almost any of his toys
  4. And I'm told she's happy around the other children at her preschool. 
  5. And she's happy when all of her family is together

I'm trying not to be one of these "blinded - biased" parents -- but at some point don't we just let kids be kids?  Help me here if I'm off my rocker -- and from any of your experiences OT was the best route early on..... what do you think the criteria should be before sending a child to OT?.... help me with this abstract service - because at times it just seems like they are just playing with children -- and isn't that what we as parents are supposed to be doing?  So can this sensory stuff go away through the normal course of growing up - and playing - being in a family???   What about the brushing - what would you say is the criteria for a child to begin brushing? We give lotion massages at night - and she seems to really enjoy it -- plus her skin NEEDS it so badly this often. So does anyone know of any good website discussing this, have experience on this topic, etc?? I want to be able to cancel OT for a few months, maybe even until spring - but don't want to make a mistake that we regret down the road...any thoughts??       

Friday, October 26, 2012

Confirmation we are on the right path

So, since taking Lauren to preschool, it has been really hard for me.  When I drop her off she cries..... I need people in my life to be happy.  So this is killing me.... EVERYONE tells me, this is normal, and actually good because it shows she is bonded to me.  (I know Joshua cried when he went to daycare - but it's been a very long time ago and it's hard for me to remember all those feelings)..... I know they all get used to the separation, but still it's hard...and you always wonder, are we doing anything to harm her??  So far she's been 4 days.... well today, she barely cried any length of time at all... each day I stand in the hall to hear how long she cries.  I know they would call me if she is having a hard time settling down.... but still it is great to hear yourself that she has stopped crying.  She's really taken to Ms. Anna, so when I dropped her off today and Ms. Anna took her from me.... she fussed and cried, but really just for a moment.  I was so happy. 

This allowed me and Joshua to have our own day together -- his school was closed for parent-teacher meetings.  He received a great report from his teacher.... and we went bike riding, and played putt-putt golf.  It was a great day.

So when we came to pick up Lauren..... she was in such a great mood!  And she jabbered ALL the way home.  I also got great stories from her teacher of how she's connecting with the other children.  She sits and participates during circle time and they even made no-bake pumpkin cookies yesterday and got to eat them today....she LOVED both days (cooking and then eating the rewards too!). 

So for now, my heart is at peace knowing we are doing the right thing.  I can't wait until she has a great big long list of english words!  We are so very proud of her!!  She's pretty cute carrying her backpack too!!  Battery charger is on order -- hope to get next week :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

You must tread your own path

So I write this post merely from our perspective and it is NOT to suggest that any other family is doing things the "wrong" way.... or that we have it all figured out.... because we clearly don't.  But one thing I'm learning about parenting Lauren Anjali - is that we can certainly look to the adoption books and training for guidance...but at some point, we have to allow the Holy Spirit, our gut instict, and our own thoughts to help us know what is best for her.  I write this post only because we are a family of rule followers - if the BOOK says you "stay home with your child for 6 months"...well, we are going to do what we can to make that happen.  If the BOOK says don't allow people over to your house for 2 months -- well, we planned on doing that :)  Keep in mind, sometimes the book (although based on research and perhaps a lot of wisdom) doesn't fit every child.  I have had considerable guilt over the need and desire to return to work - and some of my closest friends have said, "you just might be a better mom if you are able to return to work on a part-time basis"....... So after knowing Lauren Anjali 49 days, here is what we have found.....

Lauren Anjali is a child that LOVES to be around people.  She loves to go, go, go .... explore, see sights, be outside, she loves to learn.  In India we picked up on this a bit because when we would play in the hotel room, at times she'd point to the door.  She loved exploring the elevator, going to the mall... and even seemed to be ok with taxi rides through the busy streets. 

So now that we are home, we noticed early on when some dear friends of ours came over with their girls, she LOVED playing with them.  When Joshua played outside with friends -- Lauren Anjali would "hang out" with the boys in the back yard, chasing them... trying to play along with the soccer game, or sometimes just playing on the playset and watching them.  At church, she didn't want to stay in the sanctuary, but instead wanted to go where children were -- we tried the infant/nursery because we THOUGHT she was too young and it was too early to leave her downstairs with the 3 year old children.  But because Joshua goes downstairs to HIS classroom, she wanted to go downstairs too -- and went right into her 3 year old class.... enjoys the toys, playdough, etc.  This girl NEEDS people...little people :).... which is great, because we have agonized over how we would transition her to preschool / daycare -- and all my friends have said, just pray about the timing, it will all work out. 

So today, we had physical therapy this morning and then I dropped her off for a very short FIRST day at preschool.  She really seemed to LOVE it.  She did cry for a brief moment when I left (I went next door to the business I could hear her).... they comforted her and she quickly quit crying!  When I picked her up two hours later they said that she did great....and was getting ready to take her shoes off like all the other kids for nap time.  After recess time she did cry/whine/fuss just a bit when they came in for circle time before lunch....but get this .... she had a great lunch and even asked for a napkin to help clean off some food that one of HER CLASSMATES got on HIS shirt..... they all got a kick out of that.  Yep, that's our girl the great helper, the loving friend.   

Now we will watch her closely and make sure she doesn't emotionally regress in any way.  But I wanted to share this with all you PAPs out there - because at some point books and opinions of other families, etc.  really can be taken and filed away for consideration for sure .... we have totally relied on the advice of many of you....but at the end of the day... being intune with your child, you will know exactly what he or she needs.....and that is when you may find yourself treading your own path. We also place a huge emphasis on prayer, and this little one was totally covered in prayer for her first day of "skaala" (school).  So thankful for that!

p.s. speaking of prayer - you should see her at the dinner table -- we hold hands around the table and pray -- she loves this and at the end she sayes, "ah-men" with her sweet little accent!  Sometimes she encourages several prayers throughout dinner by motioning for us to hold her hand again, and again....and she even bows her head :) 

p.s. - hope to post pictures soon -- lost camera charger so need to order a new one ;) 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Complexity of God's Creation

Just a short note to share -- how I stand in awe of the complexity of God's creation of humanity.  We were created to be held and loved eye to eye with a momma (God's design was breast feeding, so you get my point here of saying momma and not daddy :) )-- we were created to explore and process our senses with the loving comfort of our parent -- we were created for connection -- one-on-one engagement and connection -- we were created to crawl, because our brain grows and develops a certain way when we crawl--and our neck muscles and arms and upper body muscles grow and get stronger from crawling just in time so our "core / trunk" can support our body just in time for us to walk.  Isn't all this interesting???

So we can understand when a child is raised in an orphanage from an infant - it is very easy to understand how certain things may not be developed the most effective way, due to overcrowded care, or lack of crawling.  (Even in the most effective, loving, wonderful orphanages....this can happen).  We are created for family....and living and learning life together.  I am ever thankful for research and study of child development that will help us catch our little one up.  She's doing great -- and once we figured out OT a bit -- what "sensory seeking" looks like -- and how WE can help provide inputs .... once you figure this out folks, life gets sooooo much easier :)  At a later day, I'll post some techniques and tips.

On another topic: tried our childcare/ preschool last week.  Things had changed a bit since we first reserved our spot --- anyway, Anjali would be with 23 kids (and two teachers!!).... I just knew in my gut that this place didn't feel right.  So I've been on a mad dash to research other places.  Well today, we went to a very special place.  It's called Lexington Hearing and Speech Center -- and they have a preschool.  It was amazing.  Some kids have hearing and speech delays, but not all children have a special need.  The ratios are low and teacher engagement is very high -- rooms are really engaging, and surprisingly calm.  I think when the teacher is "present" it makes kids so very happy!!  So we are waiting to hear what spot they might have for us....some kiddos are shuffling around a bit - but I think Anjali may actually be with the preschoolers -- her little brain was just ticking along in that class room -- they also have a sensory birdseed bin, a child's computer, and all kinds of other things.  I asked her when we left, "did Anjali liked her school and have fun??" and I got a quick yes nod of the head :)  And at one point, she waved to me goodbye while she played in the preschool class and blew me a kiss.  This makes me so happy. So I guess here -- we are just plugging along through life.

Tonight she's at her small group at church -- she seems to be really doing well....and when she gets home, I'm sure she's gonna run to me to be picked up ....and guess what, momma has some rice made up for her nighttime snack.    God is so very good.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Trip Home must have

Forgot one thing for the trip home must haves ....

My friend Nikki recommended lap pads for the trip home.... that was a great tip!!  We took a waterproof lap pad with us and Anjali allowed us to change her diaper ...right there in the seats.  We didn't care what others may have thought :)  We tried our best to use a blanket to cover her up -- and when it was dark - no big deal.  But the lap pad was great to use while at the hotel too....or out during our travels, etc....because it "signals" to the child it's time for a diaper change.  So by the time we got on the plane for our trip home, she knew what the "lap pad" meant for her :)  ...also, the waterproof lap pad will protect you in case your child does sleep and leaks through a diaper. 

Also, you may have noticed the scarf I had on in the pictures from the previous post -- just a cotton plain scarf.  That was actually quite helpful to wipe those tears during the trip home.... I didn't care what condition it was in when we got home....and let's say after those long hours - it was quite damp - but was a nice way to keep myself somewhat dry - and to have a cloth handy at all times.  Just a thought. ...Plus it dressed up a plain grey t-shirt -- because all other clothes were dirty :).  I can also see the scarf being something that could keep out some of the light for your the event they do sleep :)

We also took dumb dumb suckers for the flight when our ears were popping.  I heard other people ask for cotton for the ears - I'd check into that. 

Some have asked .... our flight was United Airlines from New Delhi to Newark -- nonstop and was about 15 hours.  We really liked the fact we didn't have a layover in Europe.  We took off around 10 pm at night, hoping we could all sleep the majority of that flight to the US...... ha, ha, ha.... no such luck for us...but maybe would be for you. 

As far as jet lag -- it was interesting... we were tired when we got home, but it was weird.  It didn't seem like any of our "clocks" were off with the time zone difference.  We just kept to our same routine and everyone was able to sleep as usual. Brad and I didn't feel our best for a few days when we returned, but we still could sleep at our normal times.

As I think of other things... I'll post. I can't wait for the day when one of you get to travel :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Last India journal writing - Sept. 13, 2012

Thursday – September 13, 2012

Well I’ve been struggling to write this last India journal post – mainly because how do you describe the stress and challenge of getting a sweet, timid, unsure child home from all the way across the world….and throw in a few security check points – and it’s total and utter chaos. But hey, we got through it – we all get through it… only through God’s grace. We’ve also been pretty busy around here – as you might imagine. Anjali is a joy…a challenge… a bit stubborn at times… very sweet… smart… she’s a normal 3 year old with a few extra added special attributes :) - so it’s been very busy. Mainly we’ve had Joshua’s school activities, soccer, Anjali doctor’s appointments, a PT evaluation, and an OT evaluation…. and now looking at about a year of therapy to get her caught up… throw in the language barrier to communication, a stuck knee in the slats of her crib, sleeping musical chairs for all our family, ….did I say sleep ??? (I mean “sleep” for some of us….not so much for others!!)… and now a new toddler bed delivered just today that needs assembled and transitioned in to…in the weeks and months ahead, and welcome to our life :) -- So here goes my best attempt at being real about our trip home and our final day in India.   I will still blog on life with Anjali (Lauren Anjali) ...but maybe not quite so often :)  Email me anytime.... you can private message me on facebook.

It's 5 am in India and when everyone wakes this will be our final day here. We leave tonight and get to Lexington at 10:15 am Friday morning (9/14). It's bittersweet to think of leaving - it's like a good book you don't want to put down, yet you know you must move on. It's been amazing and I am absolutely so thankful that we built in to our trip several down / rest days…..folks, my best advice is ….don’t rush this trip!! Little miss is great, funny, and even somewhat predictable :) and on a rigid schedule of eating and sleeping -which is great. So we got up today as usual and went to the restaurant for breakfast like every other morning….we said our goodbyes to the restaurant staff and began our last day here in India. I packed and organized the room a bit – and separated things that we were leaving behind for someone else – like too small clothes and shoes we brought along not knowing for sure what size Anjali would wear. After breakfast, we decided to go to the mall – we shopped a bit, and then went to the inside play ground area. Anjali, after about 20 minutes of watching other children go down the slide, finally worked up the courage and went up ONE STEP towards the slide, then another, and then another, until finally she went down the slide. When she did finally go down, she loved it – and went many times over. This was a good way to spend our last few hours here.

Let me just stand here and watch them for a bit first :)
If I take this one step will you come get me so I won't fall?

I can do anything NOW!

The BEST part is moma getting me at the end......

....and "throwing me in the air"..... and cheering me on....:)

Again....please :)

And still more..... times.... please :)

We finished play time and returned back to our room and continued to pack and straighten up the room. We organized carry on bags and made sure all paperwork was ready and available for airport security. Finally the time had come when we were to go to the airport. We get to the front desk and there is an issue with our bill, we had about a $100 phone call on our bill. Which I called Joshua one time and only talked a very short time – so I was expecting about $20 on the bill. They had to do research on the call – so we waited. Our bags were loaded in the driver’s car and we continued to wait. We finally got that cleared up, but with traffic and this delay we were very close to the time where panic would set in to catch our airplane. What is it with us…we can’t seem to get to the airport early!!

We get there and we must show all our paperwork to the OUTSIDE check-in guys… we finally convince them we have all our paperwork in order, tickets, adoption papers for Anjali, etc. Then we go to ticketing to check in. Again we must show our paperwork. They seem ok with everything. We go through security and there is yet another security check point in which we are asked, “Do you have a letter authorizing you to leave India with this child”….. I was like, well other than a court order, the immigration packet, her passport and VISA, her medical records, etc, etc. Finally, I recall a letter that Bal Asha wrote that mentioned something about – us being escorts to Anjali and that we are her parents… or something on those lines. We give the letter to the person behind the counter – he must take it to his supervisor…. They stand over talk and talk; make a phone call ….. Brad and I were seriously wondering if they were going to let us leave with her..... it was so stressful!!!  Brad kept, not so much... fear was setting in......and finally he comes back and says we can proceed.   So we run to the gate…. Anjali at times wants to be held, sometimes wants to walk – sometimes throws herself on the floor…. I am dripping in sweat and all we really care about is getting to that gate before it’s too late. We get to the gate and I’ll be darn if we don’t have to pull ALL our paperwork out for her AGAIN! It was a total of four times! Finally we were allowed to get on the plane and get settled.

On the plane Anjali never got comfortable…. Our flight was taking off about her bed time so I really thought she’d sleep most of the way home …. Or at least to the Newark connection…. (the 15 hour long part of our trip)…. but not really. She could not get in her “normal” sleeping position – because she sleeps so stretched out and there is only so much room in an airplane seat – so she slept for about 20 minutes and cried for 40 minutes --- and pretty much did that for the entire 15 hours! :) When breakfast came she was starving – and ate the eggs quickly and wanted more – and there was no more – even the flight attendant was looking for more for her – and they didn’t have any more. They gave us a chicken meal and she did not want that… so now I have a hungry, tired, child. If I would have known myself, I wouldn’t have eaten my egg… but it all happened so fast that mine and Brad’s was gone before we realized this serving size would not be enough for her. She got her own plate, since she has her own ticket – it just wasn’t enough for her hunger to subside. It’s a real balancing act eating on those trays with a child, etc. – so we normally ate quickly to get rid of the mess. In hindsight – I wish I would have gone without so she could be content. Because of our late arrival to the airport – we didn’t have time to get a banana or anything past the security checkpoint--- and she was just about sick of Gerber snacks at this point. This little one’s world about ends when she’s hungry – so this wasn’t good at all, but we survive.

An Indian woman in front of us at one point tells us, “she’s bothering me”….and I couldn’t believe it – I wanted to say, “really?? I would have thought you would ENJOY a screaming child in your ear, kicking your seat, and putting the table up and down 500 times”…but instead I said, “I realize that, I’m trying here”. And at one point the stares got so bad around us that I got up and walked her in the aisles and I actually said to anyone looking in my direction at the time, “you all, If I could control this....I WOULD"….. they still showed little empathy. Benedryl doesn’t work for her -- we tried that while still in India one day because she wasn’t feeling well… it didn’t make her drowsy – so we decided not to try it on the plane. Our doctor also said that in about 1% or 2% of kids that Benedryl actually “ramps” kids up instead of makes them tired. We did give her Children’s Advil – that seemed to calm her a bit. There really was very little soothing…..I wish I could say something worked…. It just didn’t.

So we get to Newark – and I’m reminded quickly that I am back in the go ole’ USA. We had to get bags and put them back on a transfer belt – a nice gentleman helped us as Anjali was attempting to roll on her belly down the carpeted ramp on the floor…. It was nuts! Anyway, and we had to go through security AGAIN! Only this time, guess what – her bangles were setting off the alarm at a level that required her to be separated from me….. yes, that’s right…. they took her from me – made me go through the body scan – while Brad held her and she screamed!!! Keep in mind – at this point in our trip – she WILL NOT allow Brad to hold her, or barely touch her. So for her to be on the other side of a full body screen machine – with Brad was quite traumatic for me …and her. I was crying – and they wanted her to walk through this other screening part by herself ….NUTS! They had no sympathy for the screaming of Anjali or my tears. At one point, I yelled, “Just give her to me!!” They finally gave her to me – Brad went through gathered our carry on bags – and Anjali and I waited while the “supervisor” did a pat down of Anjali and tested for some sort of dust on my hands – and tested her BANGLES!! Unbelievable….but a sign of the times we are living in.

We caught our flight from Newark to Chicago by moments only – and we are settled onto the final two short legs of our flight. Connection in Chicago goes fine – again it’s a fairly close one and we are finally on the flight from Chicago to Lexington – and Brad and I look across to each other in our seats with a great big smile – we are about an hour from home! We get to LEX airport and we know folks are waiting for us – so we clean up a bit in the bathrooms, change clothes…and head for the escalator to be greeted by our Joshua, Nana (my mom) – and who ever else decided to come by :)

Are they coming yet?
 So thankful for our friends and family.......
 Love Mrs. Brenda - our children's pastor - she's in the black shirt :)

Reese's pieces and a windmill.... she loves both -- just no so sure right here at the airport -- but later, look out!

Love this look!  Another adoption mom - who happens to be a professional photographer came to take pics for us at the airport!  Her kiddos are from Ethiopia -- twins!!

Our family is complete.

It was great seeing our Joshua – he had to have grown over the last two weeks – he seemed huge compared to Anjali. It’s Friday morning (September 14th – it’s Anjali’s birthday – we are exhausted and on display :) ) – Joshua doesn’t know what to think of Anjali – and vice versa. We make our way to the van and within 6 minutes we are home ….. within about another 20 minutes Anjali rips one of Joshua’s school projects – I mean rips it right in half…. And that is the beginning of being reunited with our son :) and the introduction between these two siblings. It’s hard, it’s good…. And thankfully God is sufficient.

p.s. – since we’ve been home a whole bunch of stuff has happened with our bonding with Anjali – Joshua is getting better at having a sibling – and she is absolutely nuts over him and does what ever he does….and is always excited to go pick him up from school. She also calls him bye-ah – which is “brother” in Marathi….and I think secretly he really likes that. Honestly, he is not sure he wants a sibling (but we are told that is all very normal, especially for an only child (that was the center of the family :) )) – we are working hard on ensuring that we don’t lose Joshua’s sweet heart in the process. And even though she annoys him at times, gets into his leggos, etc… he still displays spontaneous affection for her – like in the morning when she wakes up, or when we pick him up from school…. And he loves playing chase with her and Brad around the house. We make sure that he has some alone time with us – and we do all our normal activities like soccer etc. Believe it or not, the night we got home (Friday, Sept. 14) at 6 pm that night Brad, Anjali, and I were on the soccer field watching Joshua’s practice!! Yep that’s right the day of returning from 20+ hours on an airplane we find ourselves on the soccer field. And the next morning – we all got up to attend his game. So we are working hard at balancing the parenting responsibilities of having TWO children. And guess what, my need to please EVERYONE has subsided and I’m resigned to the fact that I will certainly disappoint many people including those I love. Yes, we are growing and I pray it’s in the direction that our Lord and Savior wants us to grow. In the hard times, I hang my hope on Him and I’m reminded of ALL his faithfulness and provision on this trip….. so I am SOLD OUT on the idea that Anjali is ours, meant to be…. And we are solid in HIS will for her joining our family. Plus I’m SOLD OUT on total and utter LOVE for her…. So for now….. soccer mom – becomes….soccer / therapy mom – and we take things one day at a time. Each day there is progress…..and each day there is grace.

p.s.s. – this little one tends to want to bite me on occasion – and it’s weird it is not an aggressive bite – it’s like she will come up and hug my leg – and just take a chop out of my arm before I know it. I talked with JOH’s Lisa a bit on discipline since we got home – I can’t tolerate biting….and it’s getting better – she just needs to know I will not accept biting….and I’d say in the time since we’ve been home she’s done it maybe 3 or 4 times….so it’s not every day, thankfully. Well today, she did bite me….and it was around dinner time – so I think she’s hungry…anyway… I started crying and I sat her down as discipline… which does happen with her periodically….anyway, she got up and got a tissue out of the trash and wiped my arm, she looked up at me and almost had tears in her eyes and she wiped my tears a bit… then she went and got Joshua’s remote control for a ATV little car and man….and tried to “repair” the bite with the antenna of the remote control. I could see in her little heart she had remorse…. and THAT makes all the biting worth it!

p.s.s. – for all the challenges I share, there are many more joys….rest assured it is good.

Daily trip must haves:

Food for the airplane!!!

Organized paperwork – we had our papers in a three ring binder – each page in a clear sleeve cover – it was great to find what we needed quickly. We also had our baggage ticket receipts and all our boarding passes in a zipper pouch inside our three ring binder.

Daily lessons:

For all that is hard, there are many more good and blessed things for today and times ahead.

Don’t be too optimistic about what folks in India may say about the development of your child – American standards are probably stricter.

Don’t let a child get hungry, and make sure a small snack is available before dinner :)

Throw out conventional wisdom of parenting and follow your heart and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Remember – even these kiddos need discipline, structure, and authority – if you don’t get it early on – prepare yourself for a long road ahead (this little one responds very well to redirection and discipline – she doesn’t like it – but she responds and really does want to please…she’s just testing her boundaries).

Get to the stinking airport EARLY!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

India journal writings - Sept. 12, 2012

Wednesday – September 12, 2012

Before breakfast Brad played stickers with Anjali - and I even got a few too!  Brad forgot he had one on his face - (like a sideburn) and the waiter admired his Dora tattoo :)

Wednesday was a day full of sights, sounds, colors and emotions. We started like every day - early breakfast and then got a driver to do some shopping - Anjali is a great shopper - touching and taking it all in with her little toddler swagger, especially when she’s comfortable someplace. We ventured to a market a little further only to find the road closed so we went to another one that our driver knew of close by. We were escorted to the basement sat down got offered tea and they began a rug presentation (we weren’t looking for a rug). They were gorgeous, unique in design, handmade, very high quality - even Brad was mesmerized but we don't need a rug- they started big and moved smaller in size and price- long story short we held our ground and passed on the rug - our house isn't much of a show place in this phase of our life; we have Cheerios on the floor and common place is Nerf gun chases so what would we do with this luxurious rug? The salesman “chased” us up stairs with his calculator (converting rupees to US dollars) and continued to lower the price, what started at $400+ (for a rug runner) was at $225; we continued to walk and he begged for us to offer him a price to get his daily sales off to a start :) - I took his calculator and typed $50 and handed it to him - he laughed told his boss and they laughed - we laughed and continued to walk out. I think we did by a t- shirt for Joshua :) - as we neared the door he continued to beg for an offer on the rug and I replied back with a mild yell "fifty U.S. dollars"...we all laughed and then I seriously thanked him for the beautiful work done on the rugs, we truly appreciated their beauty and value (we just don't need a rug).  We also thanked them for the fun experience :)

We were finished shopping at two places and headed back to the hotel. Recall we don’t have a cell phone, right – but just so you know, these drivers will stay just outside the markets with their car and wait while you shop. During our ride back to the hotel, we came upon an accident where a woman in a beautiful red dress with cream embroidery lay on the ground surrounded by men / people looking down at her. She had obviously been in some sort of accident or something. There was no ambulance coming, the sound of beeping horns continued just like every other day, traffic total gridlock so even if one was coming they couldn't get to her. I said to Brad – “it looks like she's having a seizure” (her body thumping up and down as she lay on the ground) he replied, "she's dying - that's what dying looks like" - he got a better look at the accident and said it appeared as though she was on the back of a motor cycle and got sideswiped. Women literally ride in their flowing dresses side saddle on the back of motorcycles, no helmet of course. I couldn't help but wonder where she was going – to work, family, friends - someone must be expecting her and does she have ID and who will come to collect her body? Hundreds of cars continued to pass by as we did too when the traffic began to move - sadness engulfed our taxi and Brad and I both felt nauseous.

Our car continued on, and then at an upcoming stop light a handicapped man and several children began tapping on our windows begging for money. Something happens to you when you see such a sight – it’s almost like these faces are burned onto your heart….the image there permanently. The Holy Spirit said to me, "When you see these, you see me, the faces of humanity created in the image of God." Because we’ve learned to travel with food for little miss, we still had an apple and Gerber snacks for Anjali. Brad rolled down the window on his side and gave the apple to the child barely tall enough to see in the window; the child quickly grabbed it. On my side two more children came smaller yet and a woman selling roses. Anjali looked at them through the window….as she pressed her nose to the window. All my fears passed about opening my window and I asked Brad what else we had in his backpack - the remaining item – an almost full container of Gerber snack puffs. Anjali likes them and recognizes the container as he pulled it out of his backpack. I roll down the window a bit and in seconds the Gerber container is swiped by the woman and children. Anjali didn't fuss one bit seeing her snack go to someone else! (And it almost seemed as if she understood their need for food.... it was interesting for sure).  Anjali was been amazing the last two days actually giving up food she otherwise would clutch in her hand and even hand feeds Brad and I a Cheerios or two or Gerber snack., apple chunk - it's huge to see her give up food--- I think she likes us:).

So as we continued back to the hotel all I could think of was this, "thank you God - that our daughter will not have to live this very hard life…thank you Lord she will not ride side saddle wearing a dress on a motorcycle to work in traffic like this, and thank you Lord that she will have all her needs met by us, her family and that she doesn’t live on the streets.”....... “Thank you Lord for blessing us beyond measure.” It really is a hard life here…. no matter what your life status is.

We decided to try this Chinese restaurant at the mall for lunch. We had fried rice and it was amazing! This time together brought laughter upon our dark day as Anjali played drums with chopsticks on the metal chair and ate boatloads of fried rice. I'm reminded of days in Kenya with such swings of emotions - sometimes your heart just doesn't think it can take any more emotion ...and peace sets it.... it's as if your internal compass is ever changed..... I'm so very thankful for all our preparations for days such as these. We love this place - yet can't wait to get home and are so thankful for our life in the U.S.

After lunch we ventured out to the play area at the mall… we are reminded how much we appreciate being able to stay at this hotel that has the mall, food, and play area attached to our hotel, so we don’t have to constantly face the traffic of India.  Tomorrow we begin our long trip home.

Daily trip must haves:

When venturing out for driving trips – bring food for the street kids (apple, banana, bottled water, etc) – it is a huge blessing to share what we have.  - Can get these from hotel.

Plain cheerios – Anjali LOVES them!

Goldfish crackers are a good snack also.


Daily lessons:

Life is short – take in every moment. … you never know when it will be your last day on earth.

Count your blessings and give thanks to the Lord.

There are certain universal truths – give a kid chop sticks and watch them become a drummer before your very eyes – without ANY prompting :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

India journal writings - Sept. 11,2012

Tuesday – September 11, 2012

So I woke up this morning at 1:00 am with a wonderful verse on my heart.  Joshua 1:9   "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  This is a very special verse - because we decided before Joshua was born (and when we thought he would have Downs Syndrome) that he needed a strong name with a strong verse behind we named him Joshua - and this is his life verse.  Even though he was born with no chromosome abnormalities - we strongly believe this verse will serve his life well :) 

So today, when I woke up and had this verse come to mind -- I felt great joy and love from the Lord. 

My Brad was going to be out on an adventure for our family.  You have to understand me a bit to know HOW big this really was..... when Brad and I travel, especially internationally .... I don't let him out of my sight.  We wait for each other outside of bathroom doors at the airports and we don't leave each other without specifically telling the other where we are going at the airports.  We don't travel out for dinner alone - even if just to pick it up for the other in places like Nairobi, etc.  I need him by me.... he's my security.  He on the other hand is the adventure guy -- ever faithful in his trust that the Lord will take care of him -- ever trusting of, well I falter in this area :)  So for me to say, "ok, go get that VISA - we'll wait at the hotel for you" --- is HUGE!  But not today.... my Lord, in His loving and gentle and gracious way gave me a message and it was LOUD and clear --- "I've got your back on this one!!".... So this morning when Brad wakes he will certainly pray - we will pray together - and he will venture off to the US Embassy,'s about 30 to 45 minutes away, depending on traffic.

The Lord told me -- "I'm with him." - so I choose to visualize Jesus' robe flapping in the wind next to Brad in a 3-wheeler "auto" rickshaw.   Set those fears aside and allow Jesus to be his co- pilot on this one!! So today, I'm seeing Brad and J.C. whipping through the India traffic this morning together - both with smiles of God's goodness. :)
So off he went and we waited.  About 2 hours later - we were waiting in the lobby - because I wanted a picture of Brad arriving in the rickshaw -- and he walks up the sidewalk --- beaming, I might add.  I said, "hey, where's the rickshaw" ... he was like, "he had to drop me off at the corner".... I was bumming because we didn't get a picture.  But he didn't mind -- he could not wait to tell me this story.....(p.s. - we actually paid this guy 300 rupees for us to just take a picture of Brad in his rickshaw the next day -- we need this memory in pictures :) ) - I think he thought we were a bit crazy to pay him to take a picture of his "auto".

He thinks we are crazy - paying to take his picture!  You can see he has the "elephant God" card on his dash. 

So Brad continued his story.... "You are not going to believe it -- that was soooo cool!!"  "The wind flapping -- it wasn't hot at all -- this was one of the high lights of my trip!!" .... hmmmm I was like, "really".... and then he said something that made my heart sing...he said, "and guess what???  My driver was a Christian!!"...I was like, "REALLY, how do you know???" he goes, "he had a picture of Jesus and also a picture of the cross on his dash!!!!"  I was like, "no way!!".... He replied, "yep it's true".... his face enlightened so much with the love of the Lord - and thrilled to have taken this drive with him!  I could not believe it!!!

(India's Christian population is about 2% of overall population in India) you can see why we were totally and utterly taken in awe of the graciousness and love of our Lord - who we believe sent one of His followers to pick up Brad just for this very story!)... to praise His name and bring Him glory ... I still stand in amazement of this turn of events.  He's alive ya, and He's wanting a relationship with YOU!)

So after such an incredible morning - we took a deep breath because we realize that all our paperwork is finally DONE! The remaining time in India is for bonding, relaxing, and shopping!  So off we went to one of the markets and found some great gifts and a few things for little miss.  A friend had a great idea to get a table cloth for her daughter's wedding day -- from India - so we loved the idea and got one for our little miss.  The material and embroidery is beautiful!  We finished our shopping and headed back to the hotel.  We had dinner at the mall and went to this play area to see if Anjali was interested in playground fun. She wasn't sure -- but later warmed up to the idea -- (and now at home she LOVES outdoors and playing on the playset).  What a great day!  (I'll post a picture later of the table cloth :))

Daily trip must haves:

Faith :)
Small change for gift buying :)

Daily lessons:
Our Lord continues to amaze after all these years :)  -- ever faithful, unchanging -- Praise you Jesus!

Monday, October 1, 2012

India journal writings - Sept. 10, 2012

Monday – September 10, 2012-

Got up early – had breakfast in the restaurant and waited for Madu to come to pick us up.
Breakfast pics on US Embassy Day !  I love the Soffit mango soy drink!

I try really hard and taste everything he offers - but some stuff is better than others - I don't think I like the "pork and beans". 

Back to the egg omelette - love that.

We have to go back to the medical clinic and have Anjali’s arm looked at for her TB test and then we are off to the US Embassy for the VISA interview and application for Anjali’s VISA. The medical went fine – although it was a long wait for the paperwork. We waited along with dozens of other families all there for various reasons. Anjali was taken by the other children in the room and kept entertained merely by watching them – some acted quite silly trying to pass the time, a sibling set teased each other and Anjali laughed at them. Everyone was admiring Anjali, of course, this quiet sweet little girl who doesn’t leave too far from her momma. We got to the US Embassy right before they closed for lunch. We were lucky because no one was there – well may about 3 other families. Madu said sometimes all the windows are full of people – so we arrived at a good time. No problems there – just a few questions (how was our adoption experience, do we have any complaints, who was our agency, what will we name our daughter when we get to the states, etc.) and then they told us that they were issuing Anjali’s VISA but that we would have to come pick it up the next day. Madu explained that at some times the supervisor that has to sign some documents isn’t available or something like that. They try to issue the VISA on the same day if they can – but if not possible, you pick it up the next day.

We walked outside and Madu called the driver. There is NO parking outside of the embassy – so you have to call for your driver to return – I guess he parks somewhere offsite. Anyway, while waiting for her driver to return Madu said, “well Brad, you’ll need to come pick this up tomorrow and Renae and the baby can stay at the hotel, they don’t need to come – it’s no big deal, just come over first thing in the morning. The hotel can arrange a driver.” Then after brief pause she said, “but how will you call driver when done to pick up?”…… See there is no parking along the street at the embassy - parking is off a ways and the driver would not just continue to circle until Brad came out – he could be just a few minutes, or perhaps may be over an hour. Then Madu said, “just get a one-way driver from hotel to get here and then catch a taxi for ride back….and you see these “autos” keep circling too – so there will be no problem getting a ride back to the hotel.” As we stood waiting at the corner for her driver (the one she called, because she had a cell phone!!)…. a 3-wheeler "auto" rickshaw came by to see if we needed a ride and all Brad could do is smile and all I thought of was two thing: 1. Why oh why didn't we bring a phone or go forward with getting a local phone and 2. My husband is going to be in the news for ransom from an Indian rickshaw driver!!!

So you all know me as a worrier- actually a recovery worrier post max lucado's book Fearless. However, Brad loves adventure and so he is thrilled to be able to go pick up Anjali's visa tomorrow for our family, especially if he gets to return to the hotel in rickshaw. The streets of India are REALLY nuts... but all I could think is" you have to let him do this for your family." I prayed about it and felt a peace and agreed to “let him go alone”… despite my fears. He had to agree to take a hotel business card with him with the mall names written on the back – just in case the driver wasn’t familiar with the hotel. These malls are very well known by everyone.

Meanwhile, tonight we had dinner with Meena, Colleen, and Linda at Big Chill at the mall. It was GREAT! Loved it – had ravioli – really good. They have more like American food – really good taste of home. We also did a bit of shopping and found a really neat children’s Bible with ethnically accurate drawings of the people – and we also bought a book about an elephant. :)
The end of the rickshaw story will be tomorrow…..stay tuned.

Daily trip must haves:
A cell phone :)
Food and drink for kiddo to have during the long waits

Daily lessons:
Sometimes the things you don’t have turn into the greatest blessing…. :)